Understanding and Healing Addiction
By Michael de Glanville & Viola Edward….
What is addiction?
Addiction is a persistent and irresistible desire for a particular and familiar feeling or experience. The afflicted person seeks to replace unbearable dullness in their life with exhilaration, they are possessed by the objective of attaining that pleasurable state of mind which enables temporary (but repeatable) escape from a physical or psychological pain they are carrying. This addictive state develops progressively through a number of levels from simple consumption, to substance abuse, ending with total dependence.
Humans are creative and, over the centuries, we have discovered and developed many new addictive substances and processes. In spite of legislation aimed at limiting their consumption, the highly profitable return from the commercialisation of these addictive substances and activities is usually what funds and accelerates their widespread proliferation. The most common addictions that people in Cyprus suffer from are drugs, alcohol, tobacco and gambling (the idea of easy money). Then we have computer and internet addiction, sexual addictions, workaholism, shopping and eating disorders. Worldwide, alcoholism is the most common addiction, but because those affected usually do not consider themselves “alcoholic”, they do not consider taking treatment and we do not have the real statistics. But as most hard drugs are illegal, we have much more statistical information about it and maybe, for this reason, it is considered that there are more drugs addicts than alcoholics. Even though these two addictions are typically the most common ones, nowadays, the number of the non chemical addictions such as eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, binge eating), gambling and new technology addictions have increased greatly. Emerging ones are the addiction to plastic surgery, internet pornography and the usually unnoticed but harmful addiction to prescription medications such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Every day it is more and more common to encounter people who abuse this kind of medication in order to “get high” or to avoid pain.
The final state of failure.
Those first feelings that the sufferer gets from an addiction, whether from drugs, alcohol or from some other source are Flush/ Rapture/ Ecstasy. This can be described as a temporary state of consciousness where the body and mind are extremely over stimulated or under stimulated. It is often described as “an experience of ecstasy and feelings of symbiosis with the cosmos”. As the addiction develops, the feeling is achieved more often and more easily by taking more doses or having more than one addiction. Addiction is the final state of failure in the search for the Flush/Rapture/Ecstasy which was felt when that substance or behaviour was first experienced.
The drug of choice.
All addicts have more than one addiction; this is the way it develops and for this, therapists employ the term ‘drug of choice’. Among the several addictions, this is the one that brings the patient to therapy. For example, the person that consumes heroin may already have had a drinking habit for several years and then after they began using heroin may have reduced drinking because of the heroin consumption, though it was their drinking habit which created the need for another addiction. Another example is cocaine addiction, which almost always goes hand in hand with alcohol consumption. It is for this reason that abstinence from all addictive substances is so important for the healing process.
Different types of addiction.
The treatments for different types of addictions can be divided into two major categories; the Chemical addictions and the Non chemical ones. For the latter group, such as: Gambling, Internet games, Online chat, Sex sites, Internet pornography, Online shopping, T.V., Workaholism, Eating disorders, Shopping, Sexaholism, Kleptomania, Co-dependency/love addiction and so on, the treatment will be based on Coaching, Breathwork and Psychotherapy, Bodywork such as Massage and Watsu and Creative development such as Colour and Image Consultancy. In some cases we would also need medication in the early stages of treatment. For the Chemical addictions such as: Alcohol, Marijuana (Cannabis), Amphetamines, Stupefients, Anxiolitics, Sleeping pills, the acid drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, etc. we need a process of the above mentioned therapies and in addition, detoxification, vitamins, minerals and medication. In extreme cases hospitalization maybe required. Cigarettes are also chemical but they don’t generate the entire abstinence syndrome like nausea, shaking, fever, extreme anxiety, sickness, sweating, etc. A high percentage of the therapeutical approaches that deal with addiction are based on the 12 steps programs. Even though some drugs or behaviours (food disorders, sex, gambling, ecstasy, etc.) by themselves don’t produce the addiction, it is the effect of sensations and feelings which they provoke in some people which leads to the addiction. There are others like heroin, cocaine and LSD amongst others that will damage the reward system of the brain and this damaged area will stop producing dopamine, the lack of which will produce the chemical addiction to substitute what is missing.
Beginning the healing.
The first three months of a treatment will be focused on coaching the client/patient to reconnect with their resources, their capabilities and talents, as they will be quite damaged by the dependency. This would include Family therapy, if possible, and Transpersonal Psychotherapy once a week or more if required. Group therapy is also most recommended (in the rehabilitation centres, it is a must) and then Follow up after recovery. The Coaching techniques employ Breathwork in order to reconnect with the force of life and willpower, Hypnosis, if required and psychotherapy. We accompany our clients on a journey with a team of complementary doctors, body workers and beauty experts. For a successful treatment the following recommendations would be followed: Abstinence from all chemical addictions forever (for at least 18 months), The Removal of all addictive substances from the house, The Avoidance of persons who were involved in the addiction and the Rituals of the addictions.
The family members should be co-opted into the healing process and should take care not to consume (e.g. alcohol) in the presence of the addict. The availability of support from family and friends as well as professional support is crucial to success as during the healing process while the addict begins to feel more secure, they will risk trying to show their power over the addiction (e.g. an alcoholic will make an appointment in a bar or will cook with brandy). One of the most important and valuable factors in the rehabilitation of the addict is the participation of the family group.
Identifying the severity.
The first step is the recognition of the problem. This realisation can come from within or from a loved one who is prepared to spell out the truth. Once the usual period of denial has been overcome, a specialist can be consulted to evaluate and decide if the situation is one of addicted-dependent, abuser or consumer. Many consumers are just one step from becoming addicted. The difference between a consumer and an addict is that the consumer can pass some time without consuming and this situation will not alter their life. For example, if a person consumes alcohol only if they are dining out, then they will try to dine out frequently, every weekend and maybe a night in middle of the week and they would spend energy creating the situations to do so. BUT, if for any reason they couldn’t dine out, then they will not consume alcohol and that will not affect their behaviour or their sleep or resting time. However, they will be looking forward to consuming again as they have already established the ritual. The consumer is simply in a prior stage to becoming an addict. They have already created the tendency and when they are faced with difficult or challenging situations they can easily jump to the addiction level. The abuser is the type of consumer who, every time they consume, does it in high doses or frequency. They are unable to regulate the quantity or time. The addicted-dependant person, in the same example of drinking alcohol, drinks a high quantity every day and feels that they cannot function without it. They depend on the alcohol just to be able to function. They develop: Loss of control, Withdrawal symptoms, Inability to abstain, Compulsion of repeating, Increasing the dose for more effect, Dispersion of interests, Social descent, Psychological and physical ruin. Take the example of addiction to smoking. If cigarettes don’t cause the cancer of: trachea, oesophagus, larynges, throat, tongue, palate, lungs, certainly it is a huge aggravation and yet some people in treatment for those conditions still continue to smoke. The sane person is the one that doesn’t consume on a regular basis, or doesn’t do it at all.
The causes of addiction.
The exact reason why people go to addiction is still a mystery. What we do know however is that it is inherited but it is not clear if it is genetic or if it is a learnt behaviour. Statistics show that almost all addicts have a family member that is addicted. Maybe they don’t have the same addiction but the weakness to addiction exists, even if the addict didn’t personally meet that member of the family. There is usually a certain secrecy about addicted people that has been perceived by the newly addicted. Even when we cannot assure that there is a genetic bond between an addicted parent and an addicted child, we can be assured that it is a frequent occurrence.
According to David Lamus, expert in the subject; ”There has been much money, time and energy invested in educating and informing communities about the risks of consuming addictive substances without significantly favourable results. A better result can be created by assertive communication involving a proportional amount of information together with personal and emotional experience. This recipe produces better results in creating a conscience in the community. Nowadays the method with the best results is the one developed by Miller and Rollnick, which combines a mix of cognitive-behavioural therapy (directive) with client-based therapies (evocative) in which the client is shown the possible risks and contradictions of his or her behaviour but he or she is allowed to develop their own conclusions and configure the options of their treatment”.
We believe that someone who is involved in developing an awareness of their own value and is content with the current situations in their lives will have a much greater resistance to the lure of addictions. Therapy, coaching and bodywork will build up self esteem, provide helpful guidance and facilitate the resolution of stressful personal situations. This is the creation of a resilient “immune system” capable of preventing and healing addiction.
If you are interested in deepening your knowledge about “Healing Addiction” you can participate in sessions with Viola and Michael.
We would love to hear from you with your comments, experiences and questions.
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About the writers of this article.
Viola came to Cyprus from Venezuela in 2002 to join Michael who was born on the Island and returned from France in 1999. Viola and Michael are both trained therapists in Breathwork and they founded Kayana Ltd in 2003. Viola specialises in Relationship Coaching, Business Consulting and Colour and Image. Michael has an Engineering background and specialises in Massage and Watsu.